Joseph joined Marlin Sub-Aqua Club in December 2022; he is sharing his story below, highlighting his goals for deeper diving and the importance of a community of like-minded people in BSAC and its charity work over other “for-profit” diving organisations.
I started diving when we were allowed out of lockdown during the pandemic. I had been fortunate that I had the opportunity to travel a bit before that, but never as a diver. Diving was always something I had been interested in, particularly the diversity of marine life, and I was conscious that when I travelled to the coast, there was a whole world to be explored that was just out of reach.
I started with a PADI Open Water Diver (OWD) course. I found the cheapest school with decent reviews that wasn’t too far away! I got lucky, I think, and my instructor was excellent. I then asked about the Advanced OWD course but was encouraged to go and do some diving first (advice I would pass on myself now). I logged a few dives abroad in the Mediterranean and a few more locally at Stoney Cove.
I realised two crucial things in those first twenty dives. Firstly, wreck diving, which, if I’m being honest, struck me as a strange way to spend your limited time underwater, swimming around a decaying piece of manufactured junk, was after a little taster on the Stanegarth, not only an ideal way to build proficiency in your diving but being able to ‘fly’ through a piece of history like that is a unique experience in its own right. Secondly, on a trip to Crete, I could dive all the house reefs, but a Messerschmitt wreck was a mere 7m too deep for me with just the PADI OWD qualification.
I was resolute when I got back to the UK I would advance my diving so I didn’t miss out on an opportunity like that again. That’s how I found BSAC and Marlin Sub-Aqua Club (MSAC). While I had a good experience with PADI training through a local dive shop, I was conscious that it was a ‘for-profit’ enterprise. They would put together a social dive occasionally, and there was an open invitation to join them at pool sessions and even the occasional trip abroad. Still, it was never far from my mind that the primary motivation for doing these things was to sell kits and training.
So I started looking into BSAC and very much liked the idea of the club system (it reminds me a lot of Greek societies back in the USA, where I’m from, but with a lot less hazing!). Having like-minded people to dive with is the priority, and then members train each other with the support of other clubs or regional coaches appealed to me. I had initially intended to visit a few different clubs. Still, after meeting the other members and looking at some of the activities that MSAC were involved in (like Project Baseline UK and Ghost Fishing UK), I never found my way to any of the other club meetings.
For now, at least, my favourite aspect of diving is just getting to try something new that is out of my comfort zone but in a safe way with people I know and trust (and have more experience). I’ll continue to try different aspects of diving with the club as well as to be able to make more of my time away from home (whether that’s with the club or on a family holiday when I can sneak away for a few dives).
The beauty of the underwater world certainly was what drew me to diving initially, but it’s the sense of adventure I get that keeps me diving when the water temperature drops! There are precious few hobbies in this world that you can partake in that will give you a genuine sense of adventure without the cost of an expedition to the Arctic or the risk of pirates in Indonesia.
I’m currently doing the Sports Diver course. In the near term, I’m keen to take the Skill Development Courses for Twin-set Diver and Accelerated Decompression Procedures as they open opportunities for longer, deeper dives. Eventually, I’d like to explore mixed gas and CCR diving (but I’m in no rush). I’d also like to be able to give back to the club, whether that’s with gas blending or instructing. Indeed, in the much longer term, heading somewhere a bit warmer to spend my remaining years on a beach, diving, of course, and maybe a bit of instructing when I need to fuel up the boat sounds like a pretty good retirement plan to me!